By NOENA ZERNA

Nicole and Craig Cover have been in love since they were 17 years old. From going to school, raising a family and loving pizza, they have always been a team. Their teamwork is what led to the creation of Partner’s II Pizza in Richmond.

Prior to the Covers becoming small business owners, the Covers moved from Georgia to Kentucky 11 years ago due to a job relocation. Nicole and Craig said they fell in love with Richmond. The Covers said they did not plan to open a business, but eventually they said they felt it was what they were meant to do.

“My husband Craig has been romancing me with pizza since we were 17 years old,” Nicole Cover said, “Our dream to start our business in Richmond started with our family’s love for making pizza and the Italian heritage of loving people with food.”

Partners II Pizza offers their specialty pizzas, appetizers, pastas, sandwiches, salads and desserts. Customers can order from the menu or enjoy the all-you-can-eat buffet during certain hours. From 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Monday nights, the dinner buffet is $6.75; from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday to Friday, the lunch buffet is $5.95. EKU students, faculty and staff can receive a 15 percent discount if they show proper identification.

Partners also delivers within a 5-mile radius of the restaurant and to EKU’s campus. They only deliver on Fridays and Saturdays, and there is a $25 minimum to have an order delivered with an additional $3 charge. Partners II Pizza does serve alcohol, but Nicole Cover said it is only to enhance the meal and dining experience.

Richmond Partners II Pizza was not the first Partners to open. Jim and Marilyn Royal opened the first Partners II Pizza January 1997 in Peachtree City, Ga. The Royals have opened four other Partners II Pizzas in Georgia, but the Covers own the one and only Partners in Kentucky. Nicole and Craig Cover would eat at Partners as teenagers and said they deemed it a piece of their hearts – the best pizza growing up.

After the Covers decided to open a restaurant, they contacted the original owners of Partners II Pizza. The Covers said the Royals helped them begin their business by trusting the Covers with their recipes. In 2013, the Covers were able to begin the process of opening their own business and decided to name it “Partners II Pizza” to honor the original founder.

Even though there is more than one Partner’s II Pizza in the United States, they are not considered a national pizza chain. The Partner’s II Pizzas in Georgia and Richmond are privately owned.

Nicole Cover said that owning a private business is much different than working for a corporation. She said working small business can be challenging, because the interactions with the public are more personal and they make extra efforts to make sure their customers are satisfied and feel appreciated. Though the Covers spend a lot of time with the public, they said they love every minute of it.

“As a small business, we see beautiful moments of humanity,” Craig Cover said, “We have the honor to participate in our community’s everyday life and it has been life changing for us.”

Nicole and Craig Cover said they love what they do and encourage everyone to visit their family-friendly restaurant. The Covers said they believe it is a friendly place to gather for birthdays, anniversaries or a simple dinner.